SYNOPSIS: Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7. James Wan directs this chapter of the hugely successful series that also welcomes back favorites Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black. They are joined by international action stars new to the franchise including Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey, Nathalie Emmanuel and Kurt Russell. Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel and Michael Fottrell return to produce the film written by Chris Morgan
It could be said that the entire Fast & Furious franchise has become nothing but an exercise in “one-upping” itself. However, starting with Fast Five‘s gravity-defying cliff jump, Justin Lin seemed to have taken to Fast & Furious 6 with every intention to blow his previous film’s scope away in a haze of NOS residue (and he did). And now Furious 7, directed by James Wan (Insidious and The Conjuring film series), seems to have met Lin’s goals in taking the franchise to the next level. Arguably, Lin’s automotive-acrobatics cements a fresh tone of “over-the-top” antics and raised the bar for future filmmakers to follow, hence, the “big shoes” Wan has to fill here. Nevertheless, Wan does seem to meet expectations on a grandiose scale.
Another thing that could be said about this latest effort is that the story feels a bit trivial. Sorta’ like the film is built on nothing but goofy one-liners, rubber-burning chase sequences, and wall-smashing fight scenes that seem to wanna emulate, but out-do previous Furious releases. However, while there might be some truth to this, I would argue that the entertainment value we see from start to finish far outweighs any supposed repetitiousness or over-indulging on the part of the franchise.
While the last few films have seen the Fast and Furious family expanding, this time there’s a contraction, and not in the way you probably expect. The “family” feels smaller, and less vibrant. The Rock is great fun when he’s around, but that’s not so often. A new character shows some potential, but she’s primarily a passive participant, more an “eye-candy” role than an interesting character to look forward to in the continuation of the story.
So how does Furious 7 stack up against Lin’s previous releases of turbo-fueled butt-kickers? Let’s just say Wan deserves to be the directing the next installment, if there is one (which I would are there will be). He’ll certainly silence any doubters whom might just entertain the thought that his transition from the Horror genre is foolish.
In summary, the boys and girls are back, and you’ll probably be glad that you are too. The previous scripts placed more of an emphasis on the plan that was pulling the team together, but this time around, it feels less consequential. The ensemble feels much smaller, and the film suffers a bit from the dizzying sequences (not that I’m complaining), nonetheless it certainly rises to the level of expectations we have of the franchise. Four and a half stars out of five are well deserved here and this flick is certainly a must-see with like-minded friends at the theaters.
**One side note to this latest release is the small, but cool tribute to the late great Paul Walker whom we will feel our hearts tug for, leading up to the rolling of the credits at the end of the movie. He’s gone much too soon and will surely be missed for his contributions to the franchise and the Arts on a whole. R.I.P. “Brian” –
By Movi-Man Stan
MOVIE REVIEWS >>>